Mobile-based company is slated to finish the shelters in time for hurricane season 2011 Mobile, Alabama (August 24, 2010) By the time hurricane season hits this time next year, Harrison County, Mississippi – which was devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 - will have three new shelters designed to weather any storm. In May of this year, White-Spunner Construction broke ground on the Federal Emergency Management Agency shelters that meet the agency’s stringent 361 guidelines for tornado and hurricane shelters. The $11.7 million project is set for completion in June 2011, in time for next year’s hurricane season, said Seth Smith, project manager for the Mobile-based construction company. “The shelters' design had to be coordinated with FEMA to ensure that the construction is in accordance with FEMA 361, Design and Construction Guidance for Community Shelters,” Smith said. “White-Spunner has acquired its 361 certification and we are excited about providing the residents of Harrison County with three safe havens that will withstand the worst weather conditions.” Each of the three 14,724 square-foot facilities will accommodate 1,000 people for the short-term and 676 evacuees for the long-term, said Mike Wilson, director of maintenance for Harrison County. The shelters – located in Saucier, Lyman and Pass Christian – also feature storm-proof windows and doors and their own self-contained water and sewer systems, Wilson said. The goal of the FEMA guidelines is to provide "near-absolute" protection from death or serious injury, taking into consideration the durability and sustainability of the entire shelter, including walls, roofs, openings and area arrangement. Harrison County suffered catastrophic effects from both Hurricane Camille in August 1969 and Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. The county - which includes the large coastal cities of Biloxi and Gulfport and the smaller coastal towns of Long Beach and Pass Christian - was hit particularly hard by Hurricane Katrina’s Category 5 winds and 30-foot storm surge. The storm surge wiped out 90 percent of the buildings along the Biloxi-Gulfport coastline. Long Beach and Pass Christian were leveled and the bridge between Bay St. Louis and Pass Christian was damaged by Hurricane Katrina. Harrison County, Hancock County and Jackson County were the Mississippi coastal counties most severely impacted by the hurricane, with Harrison County suffering the most deaths in Mississippi at 126 confirmed dead. Thirty of the confirmed deaths in Harrison County occurred at the St. Charles apartment complex, which reportedly collapsed with dozens of residents inside. Deaths also were reported at the Quiet Water Beach apartments. “We hope and pray that the residents of Mississippi never have to endure another hurricane like Katrina,” Smith said. “But in the unfortunate and likely event that powerful hurricanes will hit Harrison County in the future, these three FEMA shelters will provide residents with lifesaving protection, preventing unnecessary deaths and injuries.” Wilson said White-Spunner Construction has exceeded his expectations on the project. “White-Spunner has been a joy to work with,” he said. “I’ve worked with contractors before, during and after Katrina and White-Spunner Construction is a step above them all. They are a fantastic company to work with. If there is something you don’t understand, they will stop and explain what they are doing and why they are doing it. They go above and beyond the call of duty.” The Saucier shelter will be at Saucier Lizana Road. The Lyman shelter will be on County Farm Road and the Pass Christian shelter is being built at Labouy Road.